FORMER Dragons rugby star Gareth Cooper's ex-wife was ordered to pay back just £1 after swindling him out of £1 million.

Ex-Wales and British and Irish Lions player Mr Cooper, 41, set up two gyms and freight businesses to be run by his partner Debra Leyshon.

But Leyshon, 41, fraudulently obtained mortgages and loans in her husband's name while telling Mr Cooper the struggling business was "thriving".

South Wales Argus:

Debra Leyshon was ordered to pay back just £1. Picture: Wales News

She also re-mortgaged the family home and four other properties, and Mr Cooper was bankrupted by the con.


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The former scrum-half previously said his trust in others had been "destroyed".

Leyshon, of Laleston, Bridgend, admitted 13 counts of fraud, amounting to just over £1 million.

South Wales Argus:

Victim Mr Cooper. Picture: Wales News Service

She was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for 24 months.

Her business partner Simon Thomas, 47, and associate Mark Lee, 43, were also convicted.


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Thomas, of Wick, Cowbridge, admitted two counts of fraud to the value of £380,000, and the prosecution claim he impersonated Mr Cooper while making a business phone call.

He was jailed for 16 months, suspended for 24 months and disqualified from being a company director for eight years.

I was deceived and manipulated by the person I trusted the most – my wife and the mother of my children

Lee, 43, of Barton Road, Exeter, admitted one count of fraud amounting to £50,000. He was jailed for nine months, suspended for 24 months.

On Friday, a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing at Cardiff Crown Court was told Leyshon had benefitted to the tune of £371,271 and Thomas, from Cowbridge, £161,081.

But Judge David Wynn Morgan ordered both to pay back just a £1 nominal sum within the next 28 days.

Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, said: "Leyshon and Thomas have both been made bankrupt and their assets are being dealt with by a trustee in bankruptcy.

"As a result, the Crown will only be able to recover a nominal sum due to their status."

Lee was not subject to the hearing as the prosecution did not go ahead with POCA proceedings against him.

In a statement read out at sentencing in December, Mr Cooper said: "I was deceived and manipulated by the person I trusted the most – my wife and the mother of my children.

"I do not think I will ever be the same again."